Dems Claim Trump Team Not Wiretapped While Wiretapped

On January 20, the New York Times published a story on wiretapping of Trump insiders. In the print version, the headline was "Wiretapped Data Used in Inquiry of Trump Aides," although you're going to have to squint to read the acknowledgment of the print headline at the bottom of the page.

Still, if you look through the actual article, you'll find this paragraph:

The F.B.I. is leading the investigations, aided by the National Security Agency, the C.I.A. and the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit. The investigators have accelerated their efforts in recent weeks but have found no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing, the officials said. One official said intelligence reports based on some of the wiretapped communications had been provided to the White House.

On March 4, Trump tweeted:

This, of course, has been the subject of lots of Claude Rains since then, as reporters and politicians announce they're shocked, shocked at that accusation.

I've written about this before here and here, and I won't go through the whole argument again as I'm not paid by the word, but the really inescapable conclusion was that either the New York Times reporting was false, or Trump was justified. The real question was identifying who in the Obama administration (or in the upper-level civil service staff) had been responsible for leaking information that identified a "US Person" -- and would they be prosecuted for what appear to be felonious violations of 18USC793 and 50USC1801.

If anyone. We know from the Clinton email scandal that the Espionage Act has an unwritten "except for Democrat politicians" exception. So this morning, Charlie Savage tweeted a criticism of the Wall Street Journal's editorial:

I thought this was a little odd, and followed up:

From which we got to this:

This strikes me as silly and disingenuous: it's the same old "well, it wasn't really a wiretap and it wasn't really a wiretap of Trump" defense.

Now, after a lot of talk during hearings on Monday that no one saw evidence that Trump had been wiretapped, today Devin Nunes announced (quoting from his press release):

At our open hearing on Monday, I encouraged anyone who has information about relevant topics -- including surveillance on President-elect Trump or his transition team -- to come forward and speak to the House Intelligence Committee. I also said that, while there was not a physical wiretap of Trump Tower, I was concerned that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates.

  • I recently confirmed that, on numerous occasions, the Intelligence Community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.

  • Details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration  -- details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value -- were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting.

  • I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked.

  • To be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia or any investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team. (Emphasis mine.)

As a commenter at Instapundit pointed out, this is starting to look like the old Washington tradition, the "modified limited hangout."

So, this is getting even more interesting now. It appears now that a number of Trump insiders were intercepted, and no, I'm not buying the argument that Trump saying "wiretapped" was wrong, especially since that's exactly what was reported. And it appears now that people trying to maintain that Trump was "lying" about being wiretapped are being driven to the interesting defense that it was a lie because the U.S. wasn't actually wiretapping Trump people when the U.S. was wiretapping Trump people.

Which is, at least, good for a laugh.

In the meantime, though, I think Colonel Mustard should lawyer up: the bobbies are closing in.